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October 20, 2003 - Mystery Guests Sample Secrets at Chef Dinner

What: 11th Annual Secret Chefs Gourmet Dinner

Where: Strings Restaurant

When: October 19, 2003

Beneficiary: Project PAVE (Promoting Alternatives to Violence through Education)

Host(s): Noel and Tammy Cunningham

Co-Chair(s): Dr. Dean Prina and Laren Naiman

Executive Director: Jim Bernuth

Committee Members: Noel and Tammy Cunningham, Jill and Larry DiPasquale, David Alexander and Brandt Wilkins, Jaylene Smith

Introductions: Bill Ritter, Denver D.A. and Chair of the Board

Speaker: Benjamin and Maria Perkins and their children Dallesha and Dallas Chestnutt, Jr.

Libations: Michael Geller donated all wine

Music: Wave Audio

Sponsors: Corporate: Guaranty Bank & Trust, Vectra Bank Colorado, Big O Tires, Academy Roofing and Research Management Consultants, Inc.

Quote of the evening: “Empowering youth to end the cycle of relationship violence,” Project PAVE’s motto

Menu: Hors d'oeuvres: tenderloin, tuna tataki, Bronco style potato, slow roasted red and yellow beet Napoleon and seared foie gras; corn chowder, crawfish Etouffée, Cosmopolitan sno cone, maple glazed salmon, Bateli knock-off and autumn pumpkin splendor

Attendance: 230 - Sold out

Attire: Cocktail or Sunday best

Special Thanks: In-kind: Michael Geller, Brandt Wilkins of Wet Paint Communications for invitations, David Lang, Ron Armijo, Glenn Goss, John Tobey of EVENTeur for dessert, Jill and Larry DiPasquale, Jim and Pamela Basey for sorbet

Hors D'Oeuvres:: Epicurean Catering

Florist: More Flowers

Information: 303.322.2382

Donors: Silent Auction: Peter Kudla, Larry and Deborah Melnick, Argonaut Wine & Liquors, Marc and Laren Naiman, Glenn Goss, Andrew Beckman, RE/MAX International, Noel Cunningham, Garbarini, Raplh Osterberg, Kroenke/Pepsi Center

Board of Directors: Chairman Bill Ritter, President Chuck Gross, John Capone, Michelle Cooper, Kayleen Hollines, D.J. Ida, Ph.D., Peter Lansing, Judge Lawrence Manzanares, Larry Melnick, Michael Porto, Dr. Dean Prina, Cecilia Sanchez de Ortiz, Robert Severson, Anne Thornton, Steve Werner

Blacktie Photos by: Elizabeth Byrnes

 Shelly DeHaven poses with
Shelly DeHaven poses with "mystery" guests Louise Richardson and Stephen Edmonds

Elizabeth Byrnes

"This is the largest crowd ever,” said Jim Bernuth, Executive Director of Project PAVE. “Last year I thought we couldn’t manage another place setting, but I am happy to report that we found a way!”

On Sunday, October 19th two hundred and thirty guests spilled from the interior of Strings Restaurant onto the patio to enjoy the warm weather. Noel Cunningham’s restaurant, which was closed to the public, was host for the annual Secret Chefs Dinner, benefiting Project PAVE, and though it was filled to capacity, that did not dissuade guests from attending.

“From the fantastic food and wine to the wonderful charity, this is the place to be,” said a guest, packed into the crowded entryway of the restaurant.

This "intimate dinner" for a couple hundred, is an annual fundraiser for Project PAVE (Promoting Alternatives to Violence through Education). PAVE seeks to end the cycle of violence in homes and in society in general. The staff and board members of PAVE strive to get kids to question all forms of violence. They have made profound changes in the way children throughout Denver perceive and deal with violence.

Bill Ritter, Denver D.A. and Chair of the Project PAVE board, thanked the guests for attending the dinner. “It is not easy to come out on a Sunday, evening, especially such a nice one…I promise you some of the best food in Denver!”

“Violence is a learned behavior and kids should never have to tolerate or live in that situation,” Bill continued on a more serious note. “We as a group (at Project PAVE) do not believe that you have to live that way.” He then introduced Benjamin and Maria Perkins, along with their children Dellesha and Dallas Chestnutt, Jr. As a family, they know firsthand the power of Project PAVE.

"We are not public speakers," said Benjamin Perkins. "But this is an important subject and having learned so much, we wanted to share it with others." Maria Perkins continued, "The staff at Project PAVE didn't go into a book to find answers for our family. They taught us how to trust each other again without pointing fingers."

"Our success has everything to do with our board members, supporters and the generosity of Noel and Tammy Cunningham," Jim Bernuth told the guests. “This is our 11th year and the Cunningham’s have been with us since the beginning.”

Dinner co-chairs Dr. Dean Prina and Laren Naiman announced that dinner was served. Development Director Justine Nathanson, escorted the “Chefs” to each of the dinner tables, where they announced their entrée and divulged a few facts about the recipe.

After the guests took their seats, the “Chefs” at Epicurean Entertainment explained the sampling of hors d'oeuvres they had passed during the cocktail hour. They included tenderloin, tuna tataki, Bronco style potatoes, slow roasted red and yellow beet Napoleon and seared foie gras.

The first course was thick corn chowder, served by “Chef” Doug Champion and sponsored by Morrison Homes. A spicy crawfish Etouffée, served by "Chef" Jonathan Goldstein of Kroenke Sports Enterprise, also the sponsor of the dish, was presented next.

“Chefs” and sponsors Pamela and Jim Basey explained their Cosmopolitan sno cone, a sorbet that they perfected after 18 attempts. The sorbet cleansed palettes and prepared the guest’s taste buds for “Chef” Jon Lorenz’s maple glazed salmon, sponsored by Colorado Business Bank. He had prepared a little rhyme to go along with his dish. “I bring you a bit of salmon, fresh from the sea, it works well with me. A bit of pepper and maple syrup…a strange taste combination but a nice taste sensation.”

Peter Kudla, both “Chef” and sponsor spent most of the evening in the kitchen, working the line with the hard working and dedicated String’s staff. He made an appearance to explain his dish, a Bateli knock-off served over rosemary roasted potatoes and vegetables.

Last but not least, dessert "Chef" and sponsor John Tobey explained why he had to bring Denver D.A. Bill Ritter along as he described his autumn pumpkin splendor. "I thought the dessert should be illegal, it is so good!"

The dinner and the silent auction items brought in approximately $55,000…that is some Sunday dinner!

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